Advice to Giles Coren on how to be a good cat guardian to Mo Tenzing

I probably don’t have the right to provide advice to Giles Coren about how to care for his domestic cat companions but I’m going to anyway. Although, I suspect that he knows the answers already as he is as sharp as a tack. But he provides a very laissez-faire and casual record about the wanderings of his family’s boy cat, Mo Tenzing. Giles Coren is highly talented. His words spill out of his mouth like ectoplasm spilling out of the mouth of a 1930s spiritualist. They pour over the page in a stream of consciousness which I find highly amusing but there’s a little element of concern and seriousness about his story of Tuesday, May 4 in The Times.

Mo Tenzing is handsome and he's allowed to roam in Central London
Mo Tenzing. Photo: Giles Coren and family (presumed). Mo is a handsome cat. A Burmese mix apparently.
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His boy cat likes to jump into vehicles because he loves ’em. And he regularly ends up in neighbours’ homes, some distance from his. As far as I know, Giles Coren lives in Kentish Town or somewhere close to that area in North London, perhaps Camden. A busy neck of the woods in terms of traffic. Isn’t Giles concerned about his boy cat being run over? Isn’t he concerned about his boy cat getting lost?

In the story he praises a Romanian Amazon delivery driver who inadvertently took Mo Tenzing to Hemel Hempstead because he had jumped into his van in Kentish Town. When the driver returned home after an exhausting day of deliveries he took Mo Tenzing with him. In a really classy touch of helpfulness, the man brought him back to Giles’s family entirely voluntarily and without any payment despite being offered at least £40 for the petrol.

Mo Tenzing would not be the first cat who likes to jump into vehicles including vans and lorries because of their inherent inquisitiveness. There have been a number of stories of domestic cats being trapped inside removal lorries with the cat’s owner’s furniture. Sometimes they are discovered a month later, barely alive because the lorry has been parked up for that time period. You will see videos on the Internet of cats jumping into vans. It’s amusing but also distressing depending upon your concern for animal welfare.

Bearing in mind that Giles Coren earns a bloody good salary from The Times and other freelance work that he no doubt does, I would have thought that it would be sensible to provide Mo Tenzing with a GPS tracking collar. They are relatively cheap and highly effective. The technology nowadays has improved tremendously and they link up to the ubiquitous smartphone so they are incredibly easy to use and set up. Giles, and his family would know at all times where Mo Tenzing has ended up. They would know his habitual movements and his territory. They would understand fully what he does and where he goes. That would significantly advance their abilities to be excellent cat guardians. Note: there may be privacy issues which could be why Coren has discounted this idea.

There is nothing that they can do about protecting Mo Tenzing by being run over by a vehicle unless they have a nice garden (which they probably do have) and a beautifully constructed cat confinement fence around it. I would keep him safe provided he didn’t break out of it. The trouble now, though, is that Mo has enjoyed his roamings for a considerable time and to try and curtail these freedoms at this stage might be almost impossible. He would be miserable and Giles Coren would notice it. And I know that it would concern him. I’m sure that Coren likes people to enjoy their freedoms, including cats.

However, personally, if I knew my cat was wandering around in such a risky manner it would make me anxious. Perhaps Mo Tenzing is particularly cautious about vehicles and runs away from them. Some cats are like this, which helps to protect them but there are so many domestic cats run over on the roads in the UK annually that the chances are not that remote that this delightful and much loved cat might end up as roadkill.

I think Giles and his family should address the problem. There’s an argument that anybody living in London should keep their cat confined to the home at all times. That decision should be made before adopting a cat because if from the get-go a cat is confined to the home, especially if they are a kitten, they will accept it and enjoy their life in safety.

It does place a slightly added burden on the owner in that they have to entertain their cat with more play in order to tweak their mojo but it is doable and it should be done. It is a growing trend, the concept of full-time indoor cats even in the UK where there is, historically, a very laissez-faire attitude to allowing cats to roam freely.

Having seen Mo Tenzing’s appearance, which is highly attractive, there is clearly one other aspect to the story, namely, that he may be stolen. It can’t have escaped Giles Coren’s attention that there is a spate of pet thefts in the UK at present due to the coronavirus lockdowns. It is mainly dogs but some cat too. This is an added danger to which this Wednesday we I was more of an easy resume he’s bought boy boy attractive cat is subjected.

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